THE HAGUE: Dutch fans reacted with disbelief to Sunday`s 1-0 World Cup final loss to Spain, as silence fell on an Amsterdam square where about 180,000 football fans saw the defeat on big TV screens.
As the final whistle blew, some supporters on the capital`s Museumplein (Museum Square) rested their heads in their hands in defeat as the earlier festive atmosphere turned somber and a cacophony of vuvuzelas suddenly died down.
Some cried, others sank down to the ground; many started leaving the square in grim silence directly after the 1-0 extra time defeat, abandoning their beers and throwing their orange supporters` T-shirts to the ground.
"It is unbelievable, it is very disappointing," 19-year-old Rafi Friedmann told AFP, his face painted in the red, blue and white colours of the Dutch flag and sitting on a park bench with a dispirited air.
"We came so far, we made it to extra time, and then we lose with such an idiotic goal," he said dejectedly.
"We will now go home and forget about this," added Viola Verhoef, 26, kitted out in a bright orange dress -- the colour of the national team.
"We feel bad. It is the third time that we lose a final. It was now or never," said Farid Hamdi, 22, a Dutch flag draped over his shoulders.
The normally tranquil Museumplein was earlier transformed into a sea of orange with people in T-shirts, wigs, hats, flags and banners honouring the Oranje Elftal (Orange Eleven).
Some had painted their faces, others wore lion suits or tails after the national symbol.
There were orange rabbit`s ears, orange clogs, orange hair, inflatable orange crowns and orange viking helmets.
Amsterdam officials had earlier urged people to stop coming to the Dutch capital as the city centre and Museumplein, with a maximum capacity of 100,000 visitors, filled up three hours before the match even started.
Orange fans of all ages had gathered countrywide on squares, in bars and at each other`s homes for the final clash, including more than 1,000 bars and restaurants in Amsterdam alone.
Entire homes had been covered in large orange sheets, many flew the Dutch flag, and several streets are lined with small orange flags fluttering noisily in the wind.
Police in several cities said the atmosphere at mass fan gatherings had been festive before and during the match.
In the port city of Rotterdam, some 24,000 people watched the game on two giant screens.
Another 5,000 people had gathered before a big screen erected on the outskirts of the central city of Utrecht, and up to 20,000 on two big screens on the main square of Maastricht in the south.
Analysts believe the Dutch had spent about 60 million euros overall on orange paraphernalia.
The Dutch teams returns to the Netherlands late Monday morning, escorted into Dutch air space by an F-16 fighter jet painted orange.
They would then be taken with a military helicopter to a hotel to meet their loved ones, according to the Dutch defence ministry.
The team is due to meet Queen Beatrix and outgoing Prime Minister Balkenende on Tuesday before an official welcome in the Amsterdam city centre on Tuesday.
BDST: 0616hrs, July 12, 2010